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Sorry to Disrupt the Peace: A Novel Hardcover – March 14, 2017
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"In Cottrell’s stellar debut novel, 32-year-old Helen is in her Manhattan apartment when she receives a call that her adoptive brother has killed himself… The real attraction here is Helen: her perspective ranges from sharp (New York is 'a city so rich it funds poetry') to askew ('People who call themselves photographers are fake... the real charlatans of our time. Behind a photo is a perfectly fake person, scrubbed of all flaws, dead inside') to unhinged (her adoptive parents’ grieving takes the physical form of a middle-aged European man who walks around the house and helps himself to pizza). Cottrell gives Helen the impossible task of understanding what would drive another person to suicide, and the result is complex and mysterious, yet, in the end, deeply human and empathetic.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred)
"Patty Yumi Cottrell's prose does so many of my favorite things--some too subtle to talk about without spoiling, but one thing I have to mention is the way in which her heroine's investigation of a suicide draws the reader right into the heart of this wonderfully spiky hedgehog of a book and then elbows us yet further along into what is ultimately a tremendously moving act of imagination." Helen Oyeyemi, author of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours
"In this completely absorbing novel of devastation and estrangement, Patty Yumi Cottrell introduces herself as a modern Robert Walser. Her voice is unflinching, unforgettable, and animated with a restless sense of humor." Catherine Lacey, author of Nobody Is Ever Missing
"Intelligent and mysterious and funny, Patty Yumi Cottrell's Sorry to Disrupt the Peace moves so mesmerizingly towards its blazingly good ending. One is tempted to read it as quickly as possible. But really, it is a book that should be read slowly, as some of its deepest pleasures lie in the careful observations, the witty prose, and just the book's really wonderful gaze on city life, and actually, on all life. This is a stunning debut." Rebecca Lee, author of Bobcat
"Patty Yumi Cottrell's adoption of the rambling and specific absurd will and must delight. This is a graceful claim not just about writing but about a way of being in the world, an always new and necessary way to contend with this garbage that surrounds us, these false portraits of our hearts and minds. This book is not a diversion--it's a lifeline." Jesse Ball, author of How to Set a Fire and Why
"Grief takes an unnerving path through a singular mind in Sorry to Disrupt the Peace. Beckett fans will find a familiar, but Patty Yumi Cottrell's voice is her very own." Amelia Gray, author of Gutshot: Stories
"A sort of Korean-American noir, lean and wry and darkly compelling, I respectfully suggest you read her now." Ed Park, author of Personal Days
"Behind every suicide, there is a door.’ So says Helen, aka Sister Reliability, aka spinster from a book,’ who is determined to open the door behind her adoptive brother's recent death. Her search takes her from a studio apartment in NYC to a childhood home in Milwaukee, and yet the investigation is as philosophical as it is practical, as was, perhaps, the death itself. Patty Yumi Cottrell's Sorry to Disrupt the Peace is a beguiling debut: absurdly funny, surprisingly beautiful, and ultimately sad as fuck.” Danielle Dutton, author of Margaret the First
"Sorry to Disrupt the Peace had me opening my mouth to laugh only to feel sobs come tumbling out. It's absurd, feeling so much at once, but it's a distinctly human absurdity that Patty Yumi Cottrell has masterfully created in this book. In the end I felt ebullient and spent, grateful to be reminded that life is only funny and gorgeous because life is also strange and sad." Lindsay Hunter, author of Ugly Girls
"Disturbing and hilarious, Cottrell's haunting debut explores the toxic fumes that radiate from the narrator's dysfunctional familial network, arresting development, truncating lives, and dragging everything into a vertiginous chasm the narrator, Helen Moran, investigates. Cottrell seduces her readers into an uncanny abyss." Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, author of Fra Keeler
“Patty Yumi Cottrell is one my favorite new writers. Her debut novel is black-hearted and playful, an investigation into a suicide that becomes an investigation into how to live. Cottrell can make you laugh on one page and cry the next. Fans of Jesse Ball, Sheila Hetti, and Thomas Bernhard will love this book.” ―Shane Jones, author of Light Boxes
“A Spring 2017 B&N Discover Great New Writers Selection, Patti Yumi Cottrell’s debut is a dark comedy about suicide that is, in the words of Danielle Dutton, “absurdly funny, surprisingly beautiful, and ultimately sad as fuck.” ― Lithub, 30 Indie Press Books We’re Looking Forward To
“Helen’s foggy view of reality is a dark, dark comedic well, and debut novelist Cottrell tells her story with gutsy style, glowing sentences, and true feeling.”― Annie Bostrom, Booklist
From the Back Cover
According to the internet, there are six possible reasons why her brother might have killed himself. But Helen knows better: she knows that six reasons is only shorthand for the abyss. Helen also knows that she alone is qualified to launch a serious investigation into his death, so she purchases a one-way ticket to Milwaukee. There, as she searches her childhood home and attempts to uncover why someone would choose to die, she will face her estranged family, her brother’s few friends, and the overzealous grief counselor, Chad Lambo; she may also discover what it truly means to be alive.
A bleakly comic tour de force that’s by turns poignant, uproariously funny, and viscerally unsettling, this debut novel has shades of Bernhard, Beckett and Bowlesand it announces the singular voice of Patty Yumi Cottrell.
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Top Customer Reviews
What you need to understand here is that Helen is one of the oddest characters you will ever encounter. No amount of explanation could properly convey just how strange and quirky she is. To be inside her brain for 263 pages is an experience—an experience that I happened to love, though not all readers will.
But the thing is that beneath Helen's amusing strangeness and her frankly inappropriate way of dealing with everything lies some extremely poignant truths.
When someone you know commits suicide there's this underlying need to find out why. But the thing is that it's not always that straightforward. And in situations where it's unexpected, you find yourself feeling deeply distraught by a sudden realization that this person you cared about had been concealing an unfathomably deep well of despair unseen by those around them. It makes you stop and wonder about how much you can ever really know about anyone, and it's a profoundly sad feeling in so many ways.
I've known this feeling, and Patty Yumi Cottrell addressed it so interestingly and accurately in this book, employing absurdity and bleak humor as a vehicle to confront such concrete sadness.
Helen, unlike many of us, does eventually found the "why" she's looking for. And it adds a whole new layer of depth and melancholy beauty to this moving debut.